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Art Installation Confronts Domestic Violence in Centre County

by on October 01, 2019 11:52 AM

Centre Safe is displaying the Empty Place at the Table exhibit around Centre County in October as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The display features 15 empty place settings at a dinner table, each one representing a victim who was killed as a result of domestic violence in Centre County between 1998 and 2015. Behind each place setting is information about the victim and their homicide.

“The Empty Place at the Table exhibit is a reminder for us to talk about domestic violence at our own dinner tables,” said Sarah McPherson, Centre Safe director of education and outreach. “Domestic violence is happening here and the impacts are devastating. Everyone deserves a life free of abuse. And everyone can be a part of preventing domestic violence.”

Domestic violence can look like a lot of different things, including financial and economic abuse, threats of violence and harm, intimidation, physical or sexual abuse, and isolation from friends or family. Each year, Centre Safe helps more than 1,000 people who experience domestic violence.

First going on display in Centre County in 2017, the concept of the art installation was originally created by the Women’s Resource Center of Lackawanna County. It was then licensed by Centre Safe, the local nonprofit empowering anyone who may have experienced sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, or stalking, and working to eliminate of such violence through free and confidential services, prevention and advocacy. Centre Safe staff gathered the place setting and tableware, and coordinated the research to piece the victims’ stories and display together.

The most recent addition to the table is a 58-year-old woman who was stabbed to death by her husband in her car outside of their State College home in 2015. She told her husband that she wanted to end their 40-year marriage and three weeks prior she had fled the abusive relationship, but the husband lured her into the vehicle under the guise of car trouble. 

“Each victim had a place at the table in their home. Their loss is felt in many real and painful ways; the emptiness of a table setting is a subtle yet powerful reminder,” McPherson said.

All are invited to see the Empty Place at the Table display at the following locations:

  • Moshannon Valley YMCA, 113 N 14th St, Philipsburg, Sept. 30-Oct.5
  • St. John's UCC, 218 N. Church St., Boalsburg Oct. 1-6
  • State College YMCA, 677 W Whitehall Rd, Oct. 6-12
  • 3 Dots Downtown, 137 E Beaver Ave, State College, Oct. 8-11
  • Bellefonte YMCA, 125 W. High St., Oct. 13-19
  • Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, Allen Road, University Park, Oct. 14-18
  • Centre County Library, 200 N. Allegheny St., Bellefonte, Oct. 19-24
  • Penns Valley YMCA, 115 W. Streamside Pl., Spring Mills, Oct. 20-27
  • State College Friends Meeting, 611 E. Prospect Ave., Oct. 25-27
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